Reusing Plastic in Design & Technology

by Hugo Dreyfuss, Year 8

This scholastic year, Year 8 Design & Technology students designed and made a night lamp for a child, with a difference. Instead of buying PVC sheets which are costly and have a negative impact on the environment, we used detergent bottles. Detergent bottles are made from a thermoplastic material, mainly High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE can be heated and re-shaped many times. In December we had our first practical session and we all brought our own laundry detergent bottles.  The first step was to cut the plastic bottles open with a tool called a ‘snip’, and then flatten the bottle using a hot air blower. In January, we put the flattened plastic bottle in a machine called a ‘vacuum former’. Each student put a metal or wooden object into the vacuum former and the machine produced a replica of the outer shape of the object, by heating the plastic and pulling it over the object. We then allowed the plastic to cool down. In subsequent lessons, we drilled holes for switches and LED’s into the replica and soldered the necessary components to complete the circuit. I enjoyed working on this project because we made a useful object by recycling a plastic bottle. If we can continue reusing plastics we can stop plastic pollution in the seas and we can save our planet and our marine life.